The Bush administration announced yesterday that it was re-imposing quotas on two categories of Chinese clothing and textile imports after negotiators in Beijing failed to make progress toward an agreement to limit a surge of imports from China.
The administration said that it would limit imports of fabric made with synthetic filament threads and also bras and other body-supporting undergarments in response to shipments that have battered the U.S. industry.
"Today's announcement demonstrates this administration's commitment to leveling the playing field for U.S. industries by enforcing our trade agreements," said Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary James C. Leonard III.
The administration announced it was extending until Oct. 1 a deadline for making decisions in four other cases covering sweaters, dressing gowns, knit fabric and wool trousers.
U.S. textile and clothing makers contend that a flood of Chinese imports since Jan. 1, when global quotas were lifted, has forced 19 textile plants to close and cost the United States 26,000 jobs just this year.
The administration has already re-imposed quotas in several major categories and U.S. manufacturers have vowed to keep filing requests in new categories unless a comprehensive agreement is reached with China.
American retailers have complained that the imposition of quotas will drive up the price of clothing for U.S. consumers. Limits already have been reached in several clothing categories, leaving retailers to scramble for other suppliers.
Many trade experts contend that the new limits will save few U.S. jobs as retailers are expected to simply move their purchase orders to other low-wage countries in Asia or Latin America.
In Beijing, David M. Spooner, who led the U.S. negotiating team, said, "Despite our best efforts, we were not able to reach a broader agreement." He said the U.S. side would be consulting with the Chinese over the next few days to set a date and location for future talks.
The dispute over textiles has heightened trade tensions between the two countries, reflecting unhappiness in the United States with a trade deficit with China that hit $162 billion last year, the largest imbalance ever recorded with a single country.